lawful


lawful
lawful, legal, legitimate, licit mean permitted, sanctioned, or recognized by law or the law. Lawful differs from the others in implying a reference to various sorts of law (as divine law, natural law, or the law of the land, or as civil law, common law, or canon law). Consequently, the term often comes close in meaning to allowable or permissible
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all things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient— 1 Cor 6:12

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tell me, which knave is lawful game, which not? Must great offenders, once escaped the Crown, like royal harts, be never more run down?— Pope

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or sometimes to rightful or proper
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the lawful heir

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a lawful prize

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the lawful sovereign

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that man was not Hannah's lawful husband— Ingamells

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William desired to reign not as a conqueror but as a lawful king— J. R. Green

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Legal implies a reference to the law as it appears on the statute books or is administered in the courts; thus, the lawful heir is also the legal heir; the lawful owner of a piece of property is one whose legal right to it is certain; a moneylender is entitled only to legal interest on his loans. Legal is used more often in the sense of sanctioned by law, or in conformity with the law, or not contrary to the law, than in the sense of allowable by the terms of the law
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a legal marriage

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the legal period for the payment of a debt

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the capture of the neutral ship carrying contraband was held to be legal

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she became the virtual head of our family, supplanting ... my Uncle Tiberius (the legal head) —Graves

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the Vichy regime he considers as illegitimate, although, at first at least, it was outwardly legal— Guérard

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Legitimate, which basically applies to a child born of legally married parents, also has been used to describe the person who has legal title (as to a throne, an inheritance, or a property)
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the legitimate monarch

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the legitimate heir of an estate

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The word may also imply not merely recognition by law but recognition or acceptance by custom, tradition, or the proper authorities or logical admissibility
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a lie may be considered legitimate if a patient's restoration to health depends on it

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Jane's mother was making indirect but perfectly legitimate inquiries into his prospects— Mary Austin

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legitimate to claim that much of our truly wonderful prodigality of talent is due to the work of gifted teachers— Michener

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in the light of the parallels which I have adduced the hypothesis appears legitimate, if not probable— Frazer

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Licit usually implies strict conformity to the provisions of the law respecting the way in which something should be performed or carried on; the term therefore is used especially of what is regulated by law; thus, a licit marriage, from the point of view of canon law, is one in which all prerequisites and all conditions attached to the per-formance of the ceremony have been attended to; licit liquor traffic is such traffic as obeys strictly the terms of the law; since dealings in the stock market have come under the control of the government, many deals once regarded as lawful are no longer licit
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the state is given its right to determine what is licit and illicit for property owners in the use of their possessions— Commonweal

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Analogous words: rightful, *due, condign: allowed or allowable, permitted or permissible (see corresponding verbs at LET): justified or justifiable, warranted or warrantable (see corresponding verbs at JUSTIFY)
Antonyms: unlawful
Contrasted words: iniquitous, nefarious, flagitious (see vicious)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • lawful — law·ful adj 1 a: being in harmony with the law a lawful judgment a lawful purpose b: constituted, authorized, or established by law a lawful duty 2: law abiding …   Law dictionary

  • Lawful — Law ful, a. 1. Conformable to law; allowed by law; legitimate; competent. [1913 Webster] 2. Constituted or authorized by law; rightful; as, the lawful owner of lands. [1913 Webster] {Lawful age}, the age when the law recognizes one s right of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lawful — law‧ful [ˈlɔːfl ǁ ˈlɒː ] adjective LAW allowed by law; = LEGAL: • The owner has the right to use the property for any lawful purpose. lawfully adverb : • a product that has been lawfully produced in a member state of the European Union… …   Financial and business terms

  • lawful — [lô′fəl] adj. 1. in conformity with the principles of the law; permitted by law [a lawful act]: see also LEGAL (sense 2) 2. recognized by or established by law [lawful debts] 3. obeying the law; law abiding SYN. LEGAL lawfully adv. lawfulness n …   English World dictionary

  • lawful — c.1300, laghful; Cf. O.N. logfullr (see LAW (Cf. law)). Related: Lawfully; lawfulness …   Etymology dictionary

  • lawful — [adj] allowable, legitimate authorized, bona fide, canonical, card carrying*, commanded, condign, constitutional, decreed, due, enacted, enforced, enjoined, established, innocent, judged, judicial, jural, juridical, jurisprudent, just,… …   New thesaurus

  • lawful — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ conforming to, permitted by, or recognized by law or rules. DERIVATIVES lawfully adverb lawfulness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • lawful — Legal; warranted or authorized by the law; having the qualifications prescribed by law; not contrary to nor forbidden by the law; not illegal. The principal distinction between the terms lawful and legal is that the former contemplates the… …   Black's law dictionary

  • lawful — Legal; warranted or authorized by the law; having the qualifications prescribed by law; not contrary to nor forbidden by the law; not illegal. The principal distinction between the terms lawful and legal is that the former contemplates the… …   Black's law dictionary

  • lawful — adjective Date: 14th century 1. a. being in harmony with the law < a lawful judgment > b. constituted, authorized, or established by law ; rightful < lawful institutions > 2. law abiding < lawful citizens > • …   New Collegiate Dictionary